When you’re sports betting online, there’s one element that can seem a little confusing, particularly to beginners: changing odds.
Why do the odds change in the run-up to a competition? What’s the best way to make a sports bet online and how can you take advantage of the changing odds? These are all the sorts of questions that we’re going to look at in this guide.
We’re going to break it all down in a nice, straight-forward way so that by the end of the article you’ll have a good understanding of how the system works. If we’ve done our job properly, you should come away in a position to make some really good, insightful decisions next time you want to place any bets online—whether you’re a football fan or like to dabble in the new and exciting world of e-sports.
When we talk about the odds changing for online sports betting, it’s as well to make something very clear at the outset to clear up any potential confusion. When you make a bet and actually put your money down, nothing then changes for you after that point, even if the bookie ends up changing his or her odds.
In other words, as a customer, your bet won’t change once you’ve paid your money, even if the odds offered afterwards end up being different to the ones that you agreed to.
You can think of it as a bit like being a customer in a shop. If you buy a new coat for £50 before the shop runs a sale, then you wouldn’t expect to get any money off that coat a day or two later once the sale starts and the coat is reduced to £40. You buy the coat at that £50 price and that’s that. Well, likewise, with sports betting you pay your money to make your bet at certain odds and nothing changes for you after that point, even if different customers get a different deal.
But wait, what exactly are odds?
Perhaps the trickiest part of getting involved in sports betting is understanding how odds work. Simply put, odds are an indication of a bet’s chance of winning.
There are three ways of presenting odds: American odds, fractional or UK odds and decimal or European odds.
American sportsbooks most often use American odds, which will look like this: -110. This odds system works by showing the bettor how much they would have to bet in order to win $100. In this case, they would have to bet $110.
As an example – the Chicago Bulls are -110 to win an upcoming NBA game. If you had to bet $110 on the Bulls and they win the game, you would receive $100 in winnings in addition to your original $110, resulting in a total of $210.
British bookmakers use fractional odds. These odds show the net total the bettor can expect to win, relative to their stake.
For example: Crystal Palace are due to play an English Premier League match this weekend and are given 5/1 odds. This means that a gambler betting £20 on Crystal Palace will receive 5/1 x £20 = £100 if their team wins, plus their original £20 stake back.
Decimal odds are often used in Europe, Canada and Australia. They are quite easy to understand as they involve a little less maths. Decimal odds are equivalent to the decimal value displayed by fractional odds plus 1.
An example: You bet on the New Zealand All Blacks winning an upcoming rugby union match. In fractional odds, the even-money odds would be displayed as 1/1. In decimal odds, however, it would be displayed at 2.00 – that’s 1.00 (the original stake) in addition to the 1.00 even-money bet. Winners will take home 2.00 times their original wager.
In essence, the odds that a sportsbook offers for a particular competition—whether it’s a horse race, a boxing match or the F1 Grand Prix—will change in the run-up to the event for three reasons. Sometimes it’s due to breaking news changing the predicted results; sometimes it’s due to the bookmaker trying to balance the books and sometimes it’s due to the sportsbook trying to keep up with its competitors.
Breaking news changes a prediction
If the star player of a football team goes on a wild night out two days before the big match and sustains an injury on the dancefloor, this has major consequences for the team. How will he score those spectacular goals with a broken toe? Will the team perform as well without his infectious charisma? The likelihood is that the team won’t be as successful unless there are some equally good substitutes available.
What does the sportsbook do in response to this information? They change their prediction for the result of the game and change the odds accordingly. That’s one reason why the odds will change. Of course, it can be more complex than that, taking into account all sorts of little factors that can affect form, but, basically, this is a big part of changing odds.
Balancing the books
For sportsbooks to make money and not just hand out exactly the same amount that they take in, or less, they have to ensure that they balance their books. This means that they might sometimes want to encourage customers to bet on one competitor more than the other so they are selling more bets on one side than the other. To go back to our shop example, it’s like the owner wanting to get rid of a load of stock before it goes out of date—it’s worth their knocking down the price to make this happen.
Keeping up with the competition
Sportsbooks don’t operate in a vacuum. In fact, they have to be continually mindful of what the competition is up to. If the odds set are vastly different to those of their competitors, a sportsbook might well change their odds accordingly to make sure that they’re not losing out on valuable business.
Given that your bet won’t change once you’ve paid your money, how can you take advantage of changing odds? Well, it’s often a question of timing.
You need to think about making your bet at the most opportune moment to get the best value. Betting early keeps things simple, but you might miss out on a good deal further down the line or you might find that key news about a player, horse or team changes the predicted result and renders your bet less pleasing. Betting closer to the event avoids this problem but might mean worse value.
Ultimately it comes down to making a personal judgement every time, but there are a few things you can get into the routine of doing that will help inform your decision.
Take a studious attitude to your betting
For the occasional bet, it’s fine to just turn up and go with your gut instinct. There’s something really fun about just chancing it like that. However, for the thinking sports better, taking a studious attitude to your betting is a great plan.
Follow the news closely
Try to always follow the news closely. Major stories will generally make the mainstream news on TV and radio, particularly if they concern athletes who are also celebrities. Check out the more specialised coverage for the sports you’re interested in too. These days there are hundreds of websites and blogs that give easy access to in-depth, sport-specific coverage.
Follow your sports over the long term
Follow the sports, the teams and the personalities you’re interested in over the long term, season after season, not just in the run-up to a big event. When it comes to understanding form, the fact is that the deeper your knowledge of your subject the better.
Listen to the experts
It’s also worth reading a lot of professional insights. Pundits can be wrong, of course; however, the more opinions you’re listening to the more informed you’re going to be. It’s like getting the opinion of a whole load of different film critics—some will hate a film that others will love, but if you take account of them all you can come to a sensible and moderate decision.
Use mobile apps for sports betting on-the-go
If you have an iPhone or a smartphone then you can get loads of mobile apps from online sportsbooks. The great advantage of these is that you can keep track of changing odds when you’re on-the-go. A quick check now and then keeps you informed. And as the start of the event draws closer and closer you can place a bet wherever you happen to be. Mobile apps allow you to be more responsive to changing odds.
Use reliable online sportsbooks
If you always use reliable online sportsbooks, such as those we recommend at Gambling Metropolis, then you’ll be in good hands. You can never be too careful on the internet these days; however, as long as you’re using a dependable online bookmaker than you’ll always be able to trust that the odds displayed on the website or app are accurate. It also means that you’ll be guaranteed a timely payout when you win.
That concludes our guide to taking advantage of the changing odds offered by online sportsbooks. If you’ve found it helpful then you might like to check out some of our other guides, all of which are designed to make you a wiser sport better. Whatever you do though, and however you choose to bet, remember to always have fun! Good luck from the Gambling Metropolis team!